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FLOWERS ARE A "FAMILY" AFFAIR

You've probably noticed that the wildflowers are alphabetized by their botanical, rather than common, names. There are many reasons why we chose that system. The two most important are:

1)common names vary by region, and
(2)botanical names are recognized by all countries using the Internet whereas common names are not.

The botanical names are no more difficult to use than their common counterparts. It's just a matter of practice. They are very much like our own names - only in reverse. Their last name is first, and their first name is last!

For example, in the first album you saw Aquilegia caerulea, Aquilegia elegantula, Aquilegia flavescens, Aquilegia jonesii and Aquilegia saximontana. "Aquilegia" would be like the last name "Smith". The species names "caerulea, elegantula, flavescens, jonesii and saximontana" would be like "Jim, Mary, Bill, Sally and Tom".

The botanical family name, which is Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family, is comparable to the larger family group that "Jim, Mary, Bill, Sally and Tom Smith" belong to. For instance, the "Smiths" may have cousins named "Riley" and other cousins named "Weber". Grandpa "Weber" is the patriarch of this large family and when all the aunts, uncles and cousins get together with Grandpa "Weber", it's the "Weber Family" reunion.

It's similar with plants. Aquilegia is like "Smith" - just one member of the larger Family. Caltha (the Marsh Marigold) is another member. A third is Aconitum (Monkshood). They are all classified under Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family because like the Smiths, the Rileys and the Webers, they share certain dominant characteristics.

So does it matter if you know what family a plant belongs to? Only if you are trying to identify it. It's just as beautiful without a name as it is with one!

But if you really admire the beauty and tenacity of plants and their many adaptive forms, learning the family of which they are a part will open doors to a greater understanding of how Life has learned to Live!